Friday, July 16, 2010

The Colors of My Life, lyric by Michael Stewart

I was reminded this morning of a song from the musical, Barnum, "The Colors of My Life".

P. T. Barnum sings of grand dreams painted in bold strokes of color. He wants to live large in vivid technicolor. His wife, Charity, is a humbler, softer and more conservative person. She is learning that perhaps this is not the perfect partnership she imagined, that she will not lead a quiet middle class life with this flamboyant and exuberantly optimistic dreamer. They both have a lot to learn about compromise and balance, and some of this is resolved nicely within the framework of the musical.

Barnum's verse:
The colors of my life
Are bountiful and bold,
The purple glow of indigo,
The gleam of green and gold.
The splendor of the sunrise,
The dazzle of a flame,
The glory of a rainbow,
I'd put 'em all to shame.

No quiet browns and grays,
I'll take my days instead
And fill them till they overflow
With rose and cherry red!
And should this sunlit world
Grow dark one day,
The colors of my life
Will leave a shining light
To show the way...


The song also foreshadows Barnum's adultery, when he leaves Charity for the beautiful and worldly "Swedish Songbird", Jenny Lind - and yet he does return to Charity, her gentle colors and forbearing love do indeed lead him home.

Charity eventually learns to accept and embrace some of PT's vivid imagination and zeal, and PT eventually learns to incorporate some of Charity's common sense and the gentler shades of life's palette.

Charity's verse:
"The colors of my life
Are softer than a breeze.
The silver gray of eiderdown,
The dappled green of trees.
The amber of a wheat field,
The hazel of a seed,
The crystal of a raindrop,
Are all I'll ever need.

Your reds are much too bold,
In gold I find no worth.
I'll fill my days with sage and brown
The colors of the earth,
And if from by my side
My love should roam,
The colors of my life
Will shine a quiet light
To lead him home."